Monday, 18 November 2019

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Over the weekend there had been lots of reports and also a few good pictures, of a Semipalmated Sandpiper on Oxey Lagoon, Pennington. Monday dawned fine and clear so I decided to make the journey. This is a site I have visited a few times in the past but it is really at the edge of my day birding area. It's a pity that it is so far, as there are always a good selection of birds to see there.

It wasn't difficult to find. I parked up and walked a mile or so along the coast path and soon saw a gathering of three or four people standing overlooking the lagoon. I had expected more, it's quite a rare bird, a life tick for me, and there had been some discussion over the possibility of it being a much rarer Western Sandpiper.

There wasn't a great deal to do. It didn't seem fazed by our presence and I watched it feeding for about half an hour taking a few snaps as it moved around.

Eventually it hauled out under the bank, spent a few minutes preening and then settled down for a siesta. A good time for me to move on. 

As for the issue of Western or Semipalmated - I am no expert and the bill does look a bit long for a Semipalmated but everything else seems to support this conclusion. Colour, straight stout bill, breast markings, etc, but it is a difficult call. They are very similar species and I have no experience of the variations within each. This is one where I will have to be guided by more experienced eyes.

I picked up a Long-tailed Duck on one of the other lagoons

and there were probably seven or eight Spotted Redshanks about but none of them were giving good picture opportunities.

There were probably other things to see around Pennington Marsh but this time of year daylight hours are short and the hours for photography are even shorter. I wanted to call in at Eyeworth pond on the way home to see if there were any Mandarins at home. The ones on my local pond back in Sussex have gone AWOL this year, or at least they have on the occasions I have gone looking for them.

I was pleased to find that there were Mandarins on Eyeworth although they were keeping their distance and sheltering under the bushes on the opposite side of the pond for most of the time I watched them. There was also a Goosander

and a wonderful Muscovy Duck that came rushing over to see one lady who then proceeded to feed it from a dog bowl full of seed.

Possibly an escapee or just a bird that has learnt how to get an easy meal but it needs to take care or it could end up on someones Christmas table.

By now the light was going so I headed back to the car and off back to Sussex.

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